Lawyers from the attorney general’s office spent hours Thursday pacing a Boston courtroom, dissecting for a jury the details of years-old Probation Department hirings, promotions, and campaign contributions.
Throughout an afternoon of dense testimony, both prosecutors and the defense made it clear the bribery trial of former Massachusetts Probation Department commissioner John J. O’Brien will hinge on the answer to a single question: Did O’Brien calculate and execute a plan to raise money in 2005 for then-state treasurer Timothy P. Cahill in order to secure his wife a new job?
Prosecutors say O’Brien used his influence to turn out attendees at a fund-raiser for Cahill in exchange for a job at the state’s lottery commission for his wife — a plan they say he carried out with the help of four other state employees.
“We’re not alleging that Laurie O’Brien was unqualified for the job,” said assistant attorney general Peter Mullin, who is prosecuting the case. “We’re alleging that she got the job through her husband’s illegal means.”
O’Brien resigned in 2010 after an independent counsel concluded that he had committed pervasive fraud in hiring practices during his 12-year tenure atop the Probation Department. He faces five state charges that carry penalties of one to five years in prison.
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